THE ALARM: Spirit Of ’86
(MCA Home Video)
Boy, doesnâ€™t war suck?
Youâ€™ve gotta feel the way I feel about it.
People are always killing each other, and they never stop and think that if only they treated each other nice for a change, things would be a lot different! Just think about it–if all the energy that went into making guns and bombs and stuff went into producing fertile farmland, dairy cows and things like that, I just bet we could feed the world forever! Wouldnâ€™t it be great?
But see, the thing is, They donâ€™t want it to happen! That’s right! Itâ€™s Their big plan to keep making bombs and guns and junk. Why? Because that way, They keep getting richer and richer while guys like you and me, we canâ€™t even go out to eat once in a while. It really stinks. And itâ€™s not a new thing or anything like that, because if you read books, you can find out that struggles like this have been going on for years and years.
Anyway, this is where the Alarm come in.
I donâ€™t have to tell you that the Alarm is a band that really cares, do I? I mean, the four guys in the band—Mike Peters, Dave Sharp, Eddie Macdonald and Nigel Twist–are totally aware of humanityâ€™s plight–thatâ€™s why they formed their band. Now, because of them, the real truth can be made known, the proper accusations can be made, and maybe–just maybe–the world be made a better place.
Spirit of â€™86 is a wonderful documentary of the Alarmâ€™s free concert at UCLA last April. Did you catch it on MTV? It may be the best way to see the band, if they havenâ€™t come to your town yet. Oh, they will, donâ€™t worry, because they care. Believe you me, they care. And youâ€™ll care too, when you catch this fantastic 90-minute video documentary! Frankly, the band that tells it like it is is shown the way it is–hot, heavy, heartfelt and passionate. As always, they key word here is passion. The Alarm have it in spades!
And they ask some pretty tough questions, too. Like, for instance, where were you hiding when the storm broke? It’s always been my favorite Alarm song, because I’ve always known just what they mean when they sing it. I figure the â€śstorm” is like some sort of military uprising–maybe it’s addressed to the guys in Nicaragua or Ireland or someplace like that. How about you? Anyway, I’m not that sentimental a guy, but I’ve gotta say that when that lyric comes up–you know which one, “The truth is the truth/Or the truth is surely a lie”–my eyes start to tear up, ’cause I can relate.
Don’t let anyone tell you differently–Mike Peters cooks when he starts rockin’ onstage! You can see it in the eyes of the audience. They stare up at Mike like he’s some sort of larger-than life, godlike guy–when you know as well as I do that’s not what Mike wants, he’s one of us! And I seriously doubt any Hollywood film this year will display the drama or angst Mike does when he sings those powerful opening lines: “And now they’re trying to take my life away/Forever young, I cannot stay/On every corner I can see them there/They don’t know my name/They don’t know my kind.” Forget the poetry, forget the imagery–just relish the looks on Their faces when They find out Peters & the gang are on to Their tricks!
And what’s really cool is that the Alarm aren’t wimps. No sir. Heck, these days lots of people have all sorts of suggestions about what they’d “like” to see happen, what they’d do “if onlyâ€ť they could–but give â€™em a chance, and you can just bet a buck they’ll back down, afraid of the consequences! Pussies? Nah–just scared people.
The Alarm won’t stand for it. I’ll tell you, I must’ve rewound this tape three or four times, just to watch the proud looks of the audience members as they sang along with the band, in triumph: “Going out in a blaze of glory/My hands are held up high.â€ť My kind of song–and yours too, I bet!
But as hip as the Alarm are, they’ve got more than one message for us: It isn’t always so clear-cut sometimes about who’s right and who’s wrong. Like, sometimes, it’s a duality, you know? Both sides could be at fault! That’s why I think â€śAbsolute Realityâ€ť may well be this tape’s highlight–it doesnâ€™t just rock, it teaches! Just watch good olâ€™ Mike, gleam in his eye, boldly marching back and forth onstage, like a soldier, singing, â€śThis is absolute reality, reality, reality/We are all the cause/The solution to reality.â€ť You gonna tell me you didnâ€™t just learn something?!
Notice how I didnâ€™t even start talking about how cool the guys in the band look? Thereâ€™s a time and a place for everything–and sure, the guys are probably foxes and all that, but do looks really matter when the whole damn world is at stake? Hell no! I figure that if I make my hair look like the guys in the bandâ€™s, that should demonstrate how Iâ€™m taking my stand, and thatâ€™s pretty much enough said.
You know something? This Spirit Of ’86 tape is like a powerful weapon. If we could just get all the world’s leaders together in a big room somewhere and show it to them, there’d probably be world peace in a couple of weeks, tops!
In the words of John Lennon–“you may say Iâ€™m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” There’s me, thereâ€™s the Alarm, thereâ€™s you, thereâ€™s your friends–what say we all get together sometime, and show Them weâ€™re not gonna take Their crap any longer!
(CREEM, December 1986)